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Tuesday, May 24, 2011
My column entitled "The Verdict" and every other article you read at THT Fantasy is centered around fantasy baseball. But let's face the facts—fantasy football is by far the most popular and profitable fantasy game in the entire industry. There are myriad reasons why fantasy football is so popular, such as the fact that there are only 16 regular season games played, once a week (in most instances). With the scarcity of games, it is theoretically easier for people to manage their teams as opposed to the day-to-day necessity with a fantasy baseball team. Irrespective of that, the fact remains that many people within the fantasy sports industry make their money and earn a living primarily because of fantasy football. Should the NFL's current work stoppage continue into the season and possibly jeopardize the whole year, these people in the fantasy sports industry will be additional collateral damage to the ridiculous labor dispute poisoning the league.
With this potential fiasco comes a golden opportunity for fantasy baseball players, writers and businesses. For the purposes of this article, I am not going to be specific in how to implement some of these suggestions or options, but rather I am simply making the argument that it is possible for fantasy baseball, as a whole, to fill that void and become the prominent fantasy sport in the industry. I must also state the caveat that whenever the NFL does resume playing, it will likely regain its position as the top fantasy sport. But now is the chance for fantasy baseball websites, blogs, and businesses to seize the opportunity to gain more prominence with the possible fantasy football vacancy.
As we all know, the regular season of baseball concludes at the end of September or sometimes early October. Most fantasy baseball leagues conclude their season before the end of the MLB season. The playoffs then began days later and extend to the end of October and sometimes into early November. There are already websites and companies out there that host postseason fantasy baseball games and leagues. The question is what can fantasy baseball do to generate revenue and interest in the months after the World Series ends and before spring training begins. That time of year is typically dominated by fantasy football, so there will be an inherent desire and craving for something to occupy fantasy enthusiasts' time. This is where fantasy baseball can step in and seize the opportunity. There could be a fantasy game involving free agents and with which teams they will sign. There could be leagues for winter ball or international leagues that play during the offseason. There could be strato-matic type leagues pitting historical teams or players against each other.
These ideas are not sure-fire fixes for the lack of fantasy football. But they are ideas. Some may already exist in some fashion, but they can be improved upon to turn into mainstream-type games. They are possible alternatives to fill the void left by football if there is no season. Of course hockey and basketball are in the middle of their seasons, but those fantasy sports do not come close to baseball or football in terms of participation and popularity. Baseball is now a year-long sports with all of the coverage of offseason moves, analysis, and projections. There is more interest in international players than ever. Information about players all over the world, as well as winter leagues, is readily available. There could be enough data and desire to carry fantasy baseball into the winter months.
Of course, this will be a moot point if in fact the NFL owners and players are able to reach a deal in the relative near future and save the season. But as times goes on and the labor disputes stalls in the courts, the possibility of not having a football season in 2011 is more plausible. In the event that does happen, fantasy baseball players and companies should be prepared to step up and take advantage. The benefits from doing so are far-reaching. Not only does this increase fantasy baseball's share of the market and generate new, creative ideas, but it could help save the market itself.
The fantasy sports industry as a whole has generated bilions of dollars in recent years, and it was even selected as one industry that is essentially immune from the economic recession we have been experiencing over the last few years. There are so many different games to play, and hundreds upon hundreds of great writers and websites to procure information from. We take it for granted that it is always going to be there, but there are limitations. To help prevent or mitigate any downturn in the industry as a result of the NFL labor dispute, fantasy baseball is in a unique position to help soften the blow. The industry has many innovative pioneers who have helped create the framework for the games we love. It may be time for those pioneers, and new ones as well, to put their thinking caps on take the industry to the next level.
Posted by Michael Stein at 1:04am (7) Comments
Things change fairly quickly along the daily fantasy baseball journey. Before you know it, you've been playing for what seems like forever, and you can look back to the stupid mistakes you made and smile. But before you can experience this ultimate nostalgia, you must first endure the trials and tribulations that you will undoubtedly run into along the way.
For this article, I took the time to interview players with varying experience levels with daily fantasy. I asked them one simple question. "What is your biggest question about daily fantasy baseball?"
Here are those questions, as well as my best shot at giving them the response they needed—or were looking for:
ONE DAY -- Is this legal?
Short answer is yes. This is completely legal. But I felt the same way when I stumbled upon FanDuel. This must be illegal, it's too awesome to be true. But it in fact is 100 percent legitimate. Here is an excerpt from the FAQ page on FanDuel:
"Yes, Fantasy Sports is considered a game of skill and received a specific exemption from the 2006 Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act. FanDuel uses exactly same rules as any other season long fantasy sports game, the only difference is that our games last only a day. Thanks to fantasy sports being specifically excluded from laws affecting online sports betting, FanDuel is not illegal in any way. Trust us, our lawyers drive very nice cars so that we can keep it that way. We're also members of the The Fantasy Sports Trade Association (FSTA)."
For full text of the UIGEA of 2006 click here.
The simple fact is that you can use PayPal and your credit card to play. This wouldn't be possible if daily fantasy baseball was illegal. I hope that it puts all your minds at ease, knowing that you won't end up behind prison bars.
ONE WEEK -- Why do I keep losing?
This is a tough, tough question to answer. There are many, many reasons that players lose early in their careers. I'll give you a top five and, while some of these may seem silly, they are accurate—at least with what I've seen. Here you go:
1) Taking the time to pay, when you don't have time to play. Um, duh. If your not gonna be around at game lock time, you might as well just not play. You can take a day off; it's okay. And if you are a player that has been playing, and losing, you are actually winning by not playing. I know that's a tough concept to follow, but think about it; I'm sure you'll understand. If you don't, stop reading my article, and please face me in daily fantasy.
2) Ignoring the obvious. Matt Holliday is two for 21 in his career off Aaron Harang, with zero extra base hits. As a daily fantasy baseball player, you need to know these types of things. The players with extreme successes or extreme slumps off other players exist every night. Identify them and make the proper decisions.
3) Matching up with the heavy hitters. If you can avoid the big boys, please take care of your bankroll. These guys are so, so tough. It's almost impossible to win against them consistently. And on most sites, there is plenty of less experienced traffic to face-off against. Choose your matchups carefully.
4) Ignoring the outdoors. Watch the weather like your grandmother does. It's the single easiest variable to track. Therefore, it is also the single easiest way to gain a leg-up on your opponent. There have been 30 rainouts so far this year. That's a huge number. Monitor the doppler and you will start getting some extra wins.
5) Playing players who aren't playing. Please check the lineups before you pick, people—for your own good. You look like an idiot when you have someone rostered who is taking the night off. And you look even worse if you pick someone like Ryan Zimmerman or Steven Strasburg, who haven't played all season. I hope none of my readers are making these mistakes, but if you are, fix it up.
Use these five items as a simple starting place, and your financial prospects for daily fantasy are sure to start improving.
ONE MONTH -- What are some outside resources?
A few short weeks ago I provided you all with my favorite resources for daily fantasy preparation. If you have yet to see those click here. After debating with myself for what seems like an eternity, I've decided to divulge to the readers my two other resources for dominant preparation. Here they are:
Yahoo! Who's Hot: This is such a valuable resource for me. I love knowing who's been swinging the sticks well lately, and this provides me with a perfect guide at every position.
To me, there are two primary selection criteria for hitters. First is recent performance, which can be found on the above-mentioned site. The other is historical performance. This includes everything from lefty/righty match-ups to day vs. night game averages. There are few, if any, completely irrelevant split stats to the daily fantasy player. Succeeding in this game is simply a matter of identifying which ones most accurately predict performance on any given day, and using them to your advantage. Some players go so far as to compile spreadsheets and composite scores for this type of information. While I'm not quite this dedicated, I can tell you that finding a guy who's been performing well lately, (Yahoo! Who's Hot) and also has good splits is almost always a great daily play.
Bodog -- MLB Player Props: Very rarely do I admit that anyone is more sports-knowledgeable than I. But I must concede—oddsmakers know what they are doing. With that being said, I think that Bodog's individual player props might be as accurate a predictor of nightly player performance than any other resource. Odds are presented on such things as HR probability and combined RBI, Runs and Hits for most of MLB's top players. This should give you a good indication of how a player will do versus their opponent for that day.
There are countless ways that this can be weighed, measured and utilized. If you would like to discuss the value of this site with you further, please feel free to drop me a line.
These sites are sure to come in handy for you in the daily fantasy world. All I can say is, your welcome. And remember me if you win big.
SIX MONTHS -- What's the best wager model?
The decision to be made here is tournaments, or head-to-head—or a variety of both. Tournaments offer large payout opportunities, but are far harder to win at consistently. Head-to-heads. on the other hand, can be won quite a bit, though a bad night could ruin a week of profits. Its a tough decision to make, and a personal one, but I can offer my opinion on the matter.
I play to win money, but I also play because daily fantasy is fun and makes Mariners' games more exciting. With that being said, I try to structure my wager model around this philosophy. What does this mean? It means I play primarily head-to-head games to make a profit. I then use this hoped-for profit to play in large field tournaments, with the goal of getting the big payday.
It's worked fairly well thus far, so I would highly recommend this to others. But your personal betting tendencies will almost certainly be different, based on bankroll and risk analysis. Good luck to you, and let me reiterate that strategies presented here should be applicable to all players.
ONE YEAR -- How can I maximize my money?
There are three things that you must find in order to maximize your earning potential. The first is to find the site that has features you feel comfortable with, and offers the games that you feel you can be most successful. Next, you must identify the scoring system that best suits your skills. All sites have their own unique scoring system that values, or devalues, certain individuals. Knowing and applying the scoring system properly is one of the most important, yet overlooked, aspects of playing successful daily fantasy baseball. Last, you must select a specific game format that seems to fit your style of play. Do some trial and error, because there are a lot of options out there. Sites have salary cap games, live drafts, autopicks and other different variations. By picking the right game format, you will ensure your best chance of success.
I hope that you found this little survey helpful. I encourage you all to go out and form some questions of your own. Here are the best places to give it a shot:
FanDuel -- DraftStreet -- DraftZone -- Fantasy Sports Live -- SportsGeek
Feel free to shoot me a line if you have a question of your own. See you next time!
Posted by Kevin Cearnal at 5:40am (5) Comments
Wednesday, May 25, 2011
Today’s column, inspired by one of the Sperminator’s less successful box office adventures, treads on some morally ambiguous grounds. It’s probably not ethical to knowingly deceive a fellow owner in trade talk, but at the same time one could argue that talking up any player who you want to trade is at least somewhat deceptive by nature. This is not one of The Ethicist columns, though, so I figure I’ll just present some information for you to do with what you will.
Following, are some lines of argument that sound credible or logical enough to pass the sniff test, but are likely not true. You can take these true lies and use them to talk up your own players in trade offers (and decide whether you are being unethical or simply operating within the ethical latitude of any salesperson). Or, you can simply take the nuggets for what they are and apply them internally.
His RBI totals are bound to pick up; look at his home run totals
It’s not as if Jose Bautista needs to be talked up at this point, but this true lie applies pretty well to him. However, if there is one thing lacking from Bautista’s stat line, it would be an RBI total as gaudy as his home run total. Bautista has clubbed 19 homers but “only” amassed 32 RBIs. While this might raise a flag at first glance, there are a few things to remember here.
While 13 of 19 (68 percent) of Bautista' homers have been solo shots, that is not all that disproportionate from the norm. Over the past five years, nearly 60 percent of all home runs hit have been of the solo variety, so Bautista is only two off the norm. Further, 25 of Bautista’s 41 walks (and all five intentional passes) have come with runners on. He’s been walked 20 times in 53 plate appearances with runners in scoring position. Teams are just not going to let Joey Bats cripple them.
Other players to whom this may apply: Jayson Werth (but for a different reason, as Washington has a cumulative .300 OBP)
He’s turned the corner/He’s figured it out
Charlie Morton is currently 5-1 with an ERA around two and a half. Has he figured it out? Maybe. The thing is, I don’t really care. Looking at the peripherals, we see that he has increased his batted balls skew in favor of ground balls, which can be a good thing. However, we also see that this change is accompanied by sharp decline in BABIP (in the .250s). Meanwhile, his strikeouts, which we’re already below league average, are down and his walks up. So, it’s pretty safe to say this is noise, not signal.
But all that analysis is missing the point. He’s a non-strikeout pitcher, who is not elite at preventing walks, and who pitches for a team with a poor offense and average defense. How good can he be…even if he did actually figure something out? So, whether it’s true is just basically irrelevant.
Other players to whom this may apply: Kyle McClellan, Kyle Lohse, Kevin Correia, Rick Porcello, Mike Pelfrey (when he’s going well)
He can’t be this bad forever
If we’re talking about Hanley Ramirez or Carl Crawford, this is a totally legitimate point to be made. However, if we are talking about players Derek Jeter or Kelly Johnson, my simply reply is, “Why not?” While the perception is that some of these players are underperforming, there’s also a strong case to be made that this is the performance we should be expecting, or at the least, the extent of underperformance is misperceived.
Some of the prominent names that have struggled early, such as Jeter and Jimmy Rollins, are on the downside of their careers and actually weren’t their vintage selves last season (and for some not even the seasons prior). Meanwhile, other players who commanded steep prices this offseason are coming off career years. It is more likely that Dan Uggla hits .240 than .280, for example.
Some players make the leap from promising talent to stardom, but others may have just had a year where they hit their 90 percent projection while retaining the same general skill set. The questions to ask yourself are, is the performance you are seeing somewhat legitimate based on peripherals, and is this production within the range of performance that could be realistically expected from this player?
For a player like Derek Jeter, there’s something of an unquestioned presumption that he has to bounce back from last year and be better. He’ll be 37 this year and, including the playoffs, has logged nearly 2,500 games at the major league level. Why can’t he deteriorate further and get worse?
For many of those not living up to preseason price tags, the plain fact is that we’ve seen this level of production from these guys before.
Other players to whom this may apply: Aaron Hill, Delmon Young, Alex Rios, Ian Kinsler, Francisco Liriano
Common sense/talent must prevail
Koji Uehara is a better pitcher than Kevin Gregg by leaps and bounds; surely he’ll take over the closer role at some point. To be honest, I agree with the example I just gave, but it is important to remember that pride, stubbornness, politics, and finances are at always at play in Major League Baseball.
Much as the case may be at your workplace, one’s performance and skills are not always the best determinant of career path. Often, players get labeled as one thing, and sometimes they get paid as such, too, and this label becomes a powerful tool in carving that player’s destiny. We can’t always assume that talent will always win out; context must always be considered, including that of who is making the relevant decisions.
Situations in which this may apply: Young setup men behind less talented, highly-paid veteran closers, young players on the short side of platoon splits and blocked by more pricey veterans, any player blocked by another player who is projected to be on the trade market and whose demotion would be damaging in terms of trade value.
Use this information as you must, and if you find yourself telling a fellow owner that Jose Bautista will drive in 140 runs when his RBIs catch up to his long balls, and finagle a Kevin Youkilis andCole Hamels package for him, remember the words of one of the great hustlers of our generation, uttered back when Brian Jordan was a valuable fantasy asset.
I can't be held accountable, D'Evils beating me down, boo
Got me running with guys, making G's, telling lies that sound true
Posted by Derek Ambrosino at 5:30am (0) Comments
Thursday, May 26, 2011
All stats are through Monday, May 23.
Eight weeks in to the 2011 baseball season, and Bud Norris is no longer "flying under the radar." Through his first nine starts (55 innings pitched) of the season, Norris is supporting a disgusting 64 strikeouts (27.6 percent strikeout rate, fifth-best amongst all major league starters) to a mere 20 walks (8.62 percent walk rate, on par with perennial Cy Young candidates Tim Lincecum and Josh Johnson) for a strong 3.20 K/BB ratio.
He is also getting more groundball outs (44.7 percent) than flyball outs (38.3 percent), sporting a 1.17 GB/FB ratio and 80.8 percent GB/AO ratio. Norris' peripherals (3.38 FIP, 2.84 xFIP, 3.50 tERA, 3.34 nxFIP*, and 1.21 xWHIP) are quite strong, but his results to date in more traditional metrics have not been too shabby, either (3.91 ERA and 1.31 WHIP, though in "the year of the pitcher," such stats rank 93rd and 89th, respectively, out of the 169 starting pitchers with 10-plus innings pitched in 2011).
*nxFIP stands for normalized xFIP. It is calculated similarly to xFIP, only a pitcher's line drive rate is normalized to 19 percent, with his residual balls in play being distributed based on the pitcher's groundball to flyball and outfield flyball to infield flyball ratios. Once the normalized outfield flyball total is calculated, I multiply this figure by one-half the pitcher's home park park factor for home runs per outfield flyball rate times 11.5 percent.
Noting this dominance to date this year, and highlighting that Norris was hardly an "unknown" entering the season after last year's well-publicized 158 strikeouts (9.25 K/9, eighth-highest in the major leagues among starters with 150-plus innings pitched) and 77 walks (18th-highest walk total in the majors last season amongst all pitchers) over 153.2 innings, why is Norris not owned in even half of Yahoo leagues (46 percent ownership)?
More curiously, why is Norris owned in just over half as many leagues as his fragile American League clone, Brandon Morrow (82 percent Yahoo ownership). It's not like Morrow (5.06 ERA, 1.44 WHIP) is exactly lighting the world on fire.
First, let's look at how the two pitchers are similar. Here are each's peripherals (and the major league average for each category) on the season:
And for their careers:
Both pitchers stand out as big strikeout pitchers for their career (posting top-10 SwStr% rates of any starting pitcher between 2007 and 2011) with large walk rates to boot (a combined 339 batters walked over just 640.1 combined innings pitched (4.76 BB/9, 12.1 BB%)).
Each is right-handed, throws a good number of breaking balls (particularly the slider), and each throws hard. Morrow has proven to be a bit more of a strikeout pitcher than Norris for his career, but Norris makes up for that with more groundballs.
There is a difference in their career and 2011 FIPs, but some of that might be HR/FB% luck, as each pitcher has near-identical xFIPs for their career and on the year.
Morrow and Norris have comparable fastball velocities as starters, and hitters similarly struggle to make contact against their pitches. Norris tends to throw more (and a lot of) breaking balls (particularly sliders) than Morrow, which is clearly a red flag for his long-term health, but it is not exactly as though Morrow is a model of health himself, having been on the DL at least once each of his pro seasons (not to mention the fact that Morrow also has diabetes). Both pitchers are also about the same age (26-ish), with Morrow being Norris' senior by less than a year.
Both tend to fair worse against lefties, but only Morrow's career split (4.57 xFIP versus LHB, compared to a 3.48 xFIP versus RHB) stands out as significant (Norris' career LHB/RHB xFIP split is 4.00 to 3.63), but Morrow's struggles against lefties have lessened in recent years (3.87 xFIP versus LHB in 2010, 3.12 in 2011).
Hence, for all intents and purposes, we have two identical pitchers. Yet one is owned in less than half of fantasy leagues out there, while the other is almost universally owned.
That is mind-boggling, especially when you consider that not only does Norris play in the NL, meaning that about 10 percent of his opposing batters tends to be pitchers, but he plays in the weakest division in baseball, the NL Central, which, although he cannot face his own team, still nonetheless features the below .500 and offensively-inept teams that are the Pirates and Cubs (sad face) in a disproportionate number of series. Compared this to Brandon Morrow, who faces three of baseball's most fearsome offenses in the Boston Red Sox, Tampa Bay Rays, and New York Yankees in a disproportional number of games.
Yet Morrow, modern strikeout champion of the almost no-no crown, has brand power, while Norris toils away on the shelf like a generic-label product that is also manufactured by the brand-name producer. It makes you wonder why Dallas Braden did not get any kind of love heading into the season (yeah, yeah the whole foot nerves thing, we get it).
Noting this all, what does it mean?
It means that you can get a hefty return for Morrow, trade less than that away for Norris, and come away with a relative profit that improves your team overall while maintaining the same level of production in mixed leagues.
Brand name is a large component of arbitrage in fantasy baseball. Players with less hype and less of a track record of success, including breakout players, tend to have lower trade values than established or hyped players. This is why it is so hard to "buy low" and "sell high" most of the time.
On the flip side of that coin, however, is the "sell low" and "buy high" strategy. It may seem anachronistic, but selling low or at market on hyped guys and buying low on players that owners tend to be cautious with can net you a large profit because such deals tends to maximize the value you receive while relatively minimizing the cost you have to pay.
Take, for instance, the cost of acquiring Jose Bautista last year. I went on record early and often in last year's AL Waiver Wire and other fantasy columns noting how much I believed in Bautista's pull power in the Rogers Center. I never thought he would hit 50 homers from the beginning, but I bet a friend in May, 2010 that he would hit 30 and tried to up the ante, double or nothing, to 40 around the All-Star Break.
Most Bautista owners wearily plucked him off the wire last season and were cautious to play him. On one hand, you gotta ride the hot streak, but on the other, "This is Jose frickin' Bautista we're talking about."
You obviously could not have acquired him for free, as a "toss in" or for a fungible bench player, but compared to the value produced by Bautista each month last season, you could have acquired him for pennies on the dollar. In one of my primary leagues last season, I traded away Jay Bruce plus Dan Uggla in May to get Bautista and Martin Prado.
The unknown is scary, but fear has a deprecating effect on value that you can intelligently exploit to your advantage. Think of it as buying junk bonds. People are afraid of owning them as an investment vehicle, but they're less risky than common stock.
That's why I like to invest heavily, albeit at a discount, in players like Michael Pineda and Brandon Beachy either on draft day or early in the season (though sometimes, as in the case of Kyle Drabek (who I, thankfully, was able to universally flip for Ryan Dempster after his 0.1 inning disaster at Chase Field), you just lose).
The end of May brings the beginning of real trading season in fantasy baseball. For the first six to eight weeks of the season, owners tend to be patient, opting for waiver wire moves, "waiting it out" and minor trades over major/big-name trades to fill team holes. It is not really until you reach the 50-game mark that a team's "needs" becomes readily apparent. Owners are cautious to avoid conflating "need" and poor construction with bad luck. Accordingly, this is what I recommend.
First, trade Morrow. With a 5.06 ERA and 1.44 WHIP on the season, this may be a harder task than it was in the preseason, but Morrow's AL-leading 12.09 K/9 (second-best in the major leagues) and enticing peripherals will lure plenty of owners to bite if you going trade fishing. Morrow, thanks to Josh Shepardson and the boys at ESPN, was a hype machine this offseason, and I guarantee you that you overpaid for what Morrow is capable of doing on his own merit.
I almost guarantee you as well that, despite what you paid for Morrow (unless you ridiculously overpaid for him), there is an owner out there willing to relieve you of your investment at cost (or better). Enough people understand FIP to think they would be buying low on an ace.
But why trade Morrow? His FIP, xFIP, and tERA are all under 3.00 this year, and he is a strikeout god. The answer is in his control. Much of Morrow's preseason hype came as a result of his second-half recall on free passes issued. Over his final ten starts of the season (56.1 innings pitched) before getting shut down, Morrow only walked 22 batters, good for a 3.51 BB/9.
That was a marked improvement over his career walks-per-nine rate (north of 5.00), but it came at the expense of fewer first-pitch strikes than either his career or first-half averages. First pitch strikes tend to be half the battle in walk rates for pitchers, and a 56-inning sample is hardly a reliable enough sample size to discount umpire luck or some other element to blame other than truly improved control. Furthermore, Morrow's current walk rate (4.22 BB/9) represents a large step back from last year's second half "improvement."
At the same time, Morrow's peripherals, while impressive, may not truly be as notable as they currently look. If we ignore Morrow's season debut (5.1 innings pitched, 10:2 K/BB ratio), his strikeout rate on the season falls from north of 30 percent to 27.0 percent on the dot, or a batter per nine innings. Likewise, his walks-per-nine rate would increase to 4.38.
A 27.0 percent strikeout rate (11.1 K/9) is hardly something to sneeze at, but if we also regress Morrow's current 2.9 percent HR/FB rate to his career rate of 8.1 percent (I do this cautiously, rather than regress his HR/FB rate towards the major league average of 10.5 percent*, as there is an as-yet-unproven theory that power pitchers can outperform league-average HR/FB rates), his FIP rises from 2.20 to the 3.50.
Of course, that is still solid, but if Morrow's control regresses any further, or if Morrow's groundball rate continues to float around what it was while he was in Seattle, his expected FIP could easily approach the 4.00 mark.
*League average HR/FB percent tends to be around 10.5, while HR/OFFB percent tends to be closer to 11.5.
More worrisome are Morrow's numbers if we plug in his 2011 stats, omitting his first start, into the lastest version of my xWHIP calculator (NOTE: I do not have runs-created values for 2011 offhand, so the tERA cell is set to 0.00):
Do not get me wrong; Morrow is clearly valuable and a pitcher worth owning that will do wonders for your strikeout rate. At the same time, however, he is a commodity whose current perception overshadows his actual and potential value. When a player has this kind of potential trade value above his expected value, he is a prime trade chip.
At the same time, I would recommend acquiring Norris for all the reasons to love Morrow, except he will cost you a fraction of what you'd have to trade away to get Morrow. Norris, like Morrow, has his control and injury-risk issues, but he racks up elite strikeouts and could conceivably pile up more total innings over the rest of the 2011 season.
Norris' peripherals show that he is just as likely to have taken that "big step forward" as Morrow, but the season is still young and his slowly-increasing army of owners might cautiously believe that they are just riding a hot streak.
Do not let anyone sucker you into believing that Norris is thriving off weak teams and favorable matchups. While it is true that his two worst starts came against two strong offenses in the early-hot-hitting Philly (April 3) and St. Louis last week (May 18), Norris still shut down those same Cardinals earlier in the season (6.0 innings pitched, zero earned runs, 6:2 K/BB ratio on April 26), and he obliterated Milwaukee at the beginning of the month (7.2 innings pitched, no earned runs, 11:3 K/BB ratio on May 1).
As the above indicates, Norris is not just a poor man's Morrow; he is the smart investor's Morrow clone. Both Morrow and Norris are elite strikeout sources who probably will not obliterate your WHIP or ERA (even in a season where some 40 starting pitchers (minimum 10 innings pitched) have sub-3.00 ERAs) on the merit of their relatively undifferentiated pitching talents. Neither pitcher is likely to win many games, Morrow because he tends to rack up high pitch counts and depart games early, and Norris because he plays for the offensively inept Astros).
One, however, probably has a trade value above market, while the other can be had at a discount. Earlier in May, I was able to trade away Brandon McCarthy and Luke Gregerson (whom I replaced with Sean Marshall) for Norris. If you offered that for Morrow, you'd probably be laughed out of your league. Yet, no one had anything to say about my under-the-radar move.
Would you trade away Morrow, or am I just crazy? If you would trade him, what kind of value would you need/do you think you could get in return? Sound off in the comments below.
Posted by Jeffrey Gross at 5:01am (8) Comments
Ralph writes in:
11-team, Rotisserie, NL-only, keeper league.
The plan was to protect WHIP and ERA with a relatively cheap staff, short on starters, and deal with wins and strikeouts later, when teams start dumping for next year. Then Edinson Volquez happened. And our hitting, great in April, has tailed off because of slumps and injuries. I think the hitting will straighten out and produce about 40 points (right now 37.5).
Do you think removing Volquez can save my last-in-ERA, second-to-last in WHIP staff?
We think we have an in-the-money team that can battle for third or fourth and be really good next season. This weekend we bottomed out and fell to eighth, 12 points behind fourth, five behind fifth. Can we bounce back?
Here's lineup I was planning to use this week.
C Jonathan Lucroy
C Ronny Paulino
1B Ike Davis
2b Neil Walker
SS Ian Desmond
3B Chipper Jones
MI Troy Tulowitzki
CI Prince Fielder
OF Justin Upton
OF Jason Heyward
OF Alfonso Soriano
OF Emilio Bonifacio
OF Scott Hairston
Util Scott Cousins
Reserves: Brandon Belt, Brett Jackson, Anthony Rizzo, Mat Gamel, Scott Cousins
P Mat Latos
P Zack Greinke
P Jordan Zimmerman
P Ryan Vogelsong
P Joel Hanrahan
P Craig Kimbrel
P Mark Melancon
P Kenley Jansen
P Luke Gregerson
Reserves: Volquez, Andrew Cashner, Julio Teheran, Mitchell Boggs, Eduardo Sanchez, Jenrry Mejia, Stephen Strasburg, Shelby Miller
Yes. I think your team is solid and should be competitive. Your offense has several stalwarts and should be even better when you find a replacement for Cousins. Your pitching, as you wrote, could use a little help.
The “just a few starters” strategy is actually a risky one. The few starters you do roster will have an outsized impact on your rate stats since they’ll be supplying the lion’s share of your innings. In an NL-only league where there are ever fewer “sure things” among pitchers, this strategy is even harder to pull off.
Fortunately, as Greinke pulls his weight on your staff, your rate stats should recover. Your relievers are great for such a league, though I would maybe look to sub out Jansen if you can. How to do that?
You have a great crop of reserves, too. I would look to trade one or two to get a decent starter that can help you this year. If you can find someone to take the injury-riddled Mejia, that’d be the best approach, most likely. Then you can afford to reserve Jansen.
Posted by Jonathan Halket at 5:12am (1) Comments
Friday, May 27, 2011
All stats current through at least Monday, May 23.
With the calendar about to flip to June, and the 50-game mark in the rear view mirror, it's just about trading season in world of fantasy baseball. Starting this week, I will make sure to cover at least one prime trade target weekly, and periodically give "sell-sell-sell" names as well. Here's the skinny on the senior circuit.
Mike Minor | Braves | SP | 3 percent Yahoo ownership
YTD (Triple-A): 52.2 IP, 2.73 ERA, 1.16 WHIP, 54:14 K/BB (3.86)
Oliver ROS: 5.48 ERA, 1.58 WHIP, 7.9 K/9, 4.0 BB/9, 1.97 K/BB
As noted last week, 20-year-old Julio Teheran is not ready for the major leagues, and after his two poor spot starts, the Braves are giving Minor, Brandon Beachy's preseason rival for the fifth starter position, the call up to take Beachy's spot while he is on the disabled list.
Like Beachy, Minor has destroyed upper minor hitting. In 14 Triple-A starts, Minor owns a strong 2.30 ERA and 1.07 WHIP, a disgusting 26.9 percent strikeout rate (on par with what Bud Norris has been doing at the major league level), and robust 3.50 K/BB ratio. Though his ERA (4.03) and WHIP (1.24) were a bit higher than that at Double-A last season, he was just as dominant with a 30.4 percent K r rate and 3.21 K/BB ratio. His minor league FIP is a reliable 3.37, and Baseball America likes Minor as having a higher ceiling than Beachy, who has already shown he can hold his own in the majors despite a similarly low groundball rate.
Minor has been almost as dominant as Teheran in Triple-A this season, sporting the International League's seventh lowest ERA with a 2.73 mark and a sexy 1.16 WHIP, but he has done it with a better strikeout per nine rate (9.23) while offering better control (2.72 BB/9). Minor's MLE ERA/FIP for the season seem a bit bleak (4.31 ERA, 1.43 WHIP), but may be the result of a career-high home run rate in the minor leagues.
Minor has struggled through his first few sips of coffee at the big league level (45.0 innings pitched, 6.40 ERA, 1.67 WHIP), but his peripherals (45:15 K/BB ratio, 3.86 FIP, 3.81 xFIP, 4.01 tERA) show that he is capable of things just as bright as Beachy. The Braves have called up Minor to spot start Wednesday and make at least one more start at the end of the month, but if he does well enough in these outings, it is conceivable that he might stick in the Braves' stacked rotation (particularly with Tim Hudson's back aching), even upon Beachy's return. The Braves have a bright future in their minor league pitchers (Randall Delgado, Arodys Vizcaino, Carlos Perez and Brett Oberholtzer), and with Kris Medlen on the mend, the Braves could possess a rotation that would make the '90s Braves blush within the next two years. Keep an eye on these guys as they develop, and nab Minor for most of the spot starts he gets to make this year.
Recommendation: Minor is a must-stream option while in the majors for all but the shallowest (10-team, 1,200-inning cap) leagues.
Anthony Rizzo | Padres | 1B | 2 percent Yahoo ownership
YTD (Triple-A): .377/.451.742
Oliver MLE: .301/.373/.551
One of the Padres' consensus top three prospects heading into the season, Rizzo has done nothing but hit since coming over to the Padres in the Adrian Gonzalez trade in the offseason. Through just 40 games, Rizzo has blasted 14 home runs and 14 doubles for an other-worldly .365 ISO. He even has 56 RBI and 37 runs scored, and, to tantalize us further, stolen five bases. His sizzling .377/.451/742 triple-slash line is likely the byproduct of some combination of his league (PCL) and a .426 BABIP, but even if you ratchet down Rizzo's current production to reflect his minor league career BABIP of .344 while maintaining his current power production, his slash line is a strong .347/.413/.712. Rizzo's high walk rate (10.1 percent since 2009 began) and high power output (.201 ISO since the beginning of 2009) should offset some of the worry of his high, but improving strikeout rate (20.1 percent), but he should not be expected to be the "high average" hitter he's shown himself to be at various points in the minor leagues.
Rizzo's current MLE projects as a robust .301/.373/.551, though Oliver's MLE forecasts do not consider park factors (they are context-neutral), the one true negative I can see about Rizzo's future. Petco Park is the second worst park in the major leagues for left-handed hitters, depressing home run output by about 25 percent. (Fun fact: It suppresses right-handed homers by 10 percent, a more favorable number for Cameron Maybin than his old park.)
Rizzo's MLE at bat per home run rate based on his current production at Triple-A projects as 17.1; when we factor in the park effect, it falls to a still solid 19.5. Given this sort of production Rizzo could produce 15 or so home runs for his big league club for the rest of the season if called up around June 1. Given that the Padres' current production output by first basemen has been a paltry .218/.272/.325 on the year, Rizzo is only a super-two deadline or injury to Brad Hawpe away from a major league call-up. As I noted with Brandon Belt last week, the trick with minor league prospects is hopping on board before other owners in your league, while not wasting a bench spot too early. With June quickly approaching, now is the time to acquire; he'll be hotter than Belt.
Recommendation Rizzo is a must-own prospect in NL-only and moderate (12-team, corner-infield requirements) or deeper mixed leagues. Shallow leagues (10 teams, especially those without CIs) should keep a close eye on Rizzo, but he is not a must-add in such formats).
Wilson Ramos | Nationals | C | 8 percent Yahoo ownership
Oliver ROS: .268/.307/.432
Catcher is rarely a productive position outside the top few names, and acquiring them, along with most "reliable" catchers, usually comes at a premium that overshadows their true production value. For example, the top five rated catchers— Victor Martinez (No. 42 overall preseason ranking), Buster Posey (44), Joe Mauer (52), Brian McCann (51) and Carlos Santana (275)—are currently ranked as the 163rd, 188th, 1027th, 261st and 275th overall fantasy players, respectively. They also have combined to hit 18 home runs, or as many as Jose Bautista. Only one catcher, Russell Martin, currently ranks within the current top 100 (at No. 95), and his production in May (.224/.348/.362, 2 HR, 8 R, 5 RBI) hardly matches what he did in April (.293/.376/.587, 6 HR, 13 R, 19 RBI). Of the top five catchers, only Vmart (No. 163) and Posey (No. 188) rank in the top 250, while $1 buys Alex Avila (No. 149) and Yadier Molina (No. 150), who join them (and Martin) as the only five fantasy catchers in the top 200.
What this means is that if you own a top tier, brand name catcher, you would be wise to sell him. His actual fantasy value likely far outweighs his actual value, and you could be seriously helping your team with a stronger overall player at a different position. At the same time, however, you could easily acquire a strong stopgap in Wilson Ramos, who is available in more than 90 percent of Yahoo leagues. Currently batting .272/.347/.447, Ramos has seemingly repented from his old "swing at anything" ways with a solid 12 walks in 33 games played (9.8 percent walk rate). Though Ramos tends to chop the ball into the ground more often than he hits it in the air, he has flashed slightly better than league average power numbers through his young career (.151 ISO, four home runs through 55 games played).
Ramos' current output (.272 average, 17 R, 11 RBI, 3 HR, 0 SB) currently ranks as the 16th best production by a catcher, but if he maintains his current pace, which I doubt several of the catchers ahead of him will for the rest of the season, he could squeak by as a top 12 catcher with a .270 batting average and 10-15 home runs by season's end. As long as his strikeout rate (currently 18.9 percent (K/PA)) stays in check, Ramos' .301 BABIP and .312 xBABIP indicate that his production to date is sustainable. Ivan Rodriguez is no longer a real obstacle to future playing time, so if Ramos is available on your league's Waiver Wire, and if you have a top name catcher on your roster, do the smart thing and upgrade your team.
Recommendation: Ramos is a must-own second catcher in two-catcher formats, a must-own catcher in NL-only formats, and ownable/borderline should be owned commodity in single-catcher mixed leagues with 12 or more teams.
Carlos Gonzales | Colorado | OF | 99 percent Yahoo ownership
Oliver ROS: .296/.345/.520
CarGo, like many other top-name, first-round studs this season, has under-produced his draft day cost and hurt fantasy owners everywhere. Despite a career best 17.0 percent strikeout rate (K/PA), a career high 9.9 percent walk rate, and a much improved chase rate (3.14 percent compared to last season's 37.0 percent) for pitches outside the zone, Gonzalez is posting a paltry .245/.324/.415 line on the season. His ISO, which sat at .241 in 2009 and .262 in 2010, is down to .170 this season. Those are hardly negatives, however, given that ISO requires 550 or so plate appearances before reliable conclusions can be made, and given that CarGo's current BABIP (.264) is a career low mark that is far off his career rate of .343 and expected BABIP, based on his current season numbers, of .332.
If we normalize Gonzalez's BABIP to reflect his xBABIP, even holding his power rate constant, his line boosts to a strong .301/.362/.471. There is nothing wrong with CarGo sans his luck and excessive regression in power, as his ISO should sit above .200 the rest of the way, but less savvy CarGo owners might be frustrated with his first 44 games of the season. With whispers of a lingering groin injury, the time to poach CarGo from an under-appreciative owner is now. CarGo's true talent line is not on par with what he did last year, but he is .285+/25/25 capable batting in the middle of a 50 percent Coors-fueled lineup. As his six home runs and six steals through roughly a quarter of the season indicate, he is still productive when he is struggling.
Owners everywhere likely overpaid for his realistic production rate, and that buyer's remorse may fuel a prime purchasing opportunity. He won't come cheap, but you can likely get him at "market" or slightly better price, when most top 30 fantasy players placed on the trading block cost a pretty premium. He was recently traded, along with Zack Britton, for Curtis Granderson. As much as I love Granderson, his splits and substantially lower expected batting average and stolen base totals would make such a swap not only ideal, but a possible league-winning move.
Recommendation: CarGo is a buy-low commodity of the highest order, and with his present injury concerns and April-suppressed numbers on the season, now is the prime time to relieve some other owner of his services.
Jason Giambi | Rockies | 1B | 1 percent Yahoo ownership
Oliver ROS: .251/.370/.473
There is little to say about Jason Giambi other than he'll likely get "full time" playing time during inter-league games away against American League teams as either the Rockies' DH or first baseman. Given the depth of the Rockies' lineup, Giambi could make a quality short-term power/RBI play for owners in June. Giambi launched three home runs (seven RBI) on May 19, adding another home run the next day against Milwaukee's Zack Greinke. His bat has been quiet otherwise the rest of the season (28 AB, .143/.250/.250, 1 homer). Employ at your own risk—just know he's out there and could make a splash.
Recommendation: Worth owning for interleague play, where he figures to hog time at DH.
Seth Smith | Rockies | OF | 22 percent Yahoo ownership
Oliver ROS: .274/.349/.485
Smith is a player with a severe platoon split (.269 career wOBA versus LHP, .381 career wOBA versus RHP) that makes him underrated Frankenstein fodder. While most fantasy owners invest in players who can man a position or two in as many of their team's games as possible, there's an art to using your bench to put two players with severe splits to create elite positional production. That requires micromanaging and is practiced by just a few savvy, intelligent owners.
Smith is displaying his usual splits (.222 average against left-handers, .321 average against RHP), but getting far more regular playing time. To maximize Smith's value, however, he should be used in tandem with a lefty-crusher, and thus what is important is what he is doing against righties (who make up the majority of starting pitchers). Through 118 plate appearances versus RHP this season, Smith has four home runs and a robust .245 ISO, a few ticks up from his career ISO of .230. Smith is also batting sixth this season, behind OBP machine Todd Helton, as well as Troy Tulowitzki and Carlos Gonzalez. This has led to plenty of RBI opportunities. Smith's RBI pace versus RHP is currently at a solid 80 per 600 plate appearances.
Smith also also bats in front of Jose Lopez and Chris Iannetta, who have plenty of pop to float Smith's runs scored total. All in all, paired with the "right" (get it?) platoon mate, such as Marlon Byrd's replacement Reed Johnson, you could construct top 75-type production out of a pair of widely available commodities.
Recommendation: Smith should be owned in all NL-only formats and 50+ outfielder mixed formats, and should be used in a platoon with a right-handed batter on your bench if possible.
Mike Morse | Nationals | 1B, OF | 5 percent Yahoo ownership
Oliver ROS: .276/.331/.469
A popular preseason sleeper, Morse was a disaster for patient owners (and the Nationals) in April. Over 79 plate appearances, Morse hit .211, hitting only one long ball and successfully stealing as few bases (one) as he was caught trying. Morse lost his starting outfield job to Laynce Nix (brother of Jayson Nix), owners universally dropped Morse, and no one's really been paying attention to his stock since. But that is a mistake. Over his past 19 games (48 plate appearances), Morse is batting over .350 (albeit with more sac flies (one) than walks (zero)), with three home runs, eight RBI and a .200 ISO that has raised his overall season numbers to more closely mirror preseason expectations. With Adam LaRoche on the disabled list with a shoulder injury that is worse than initially thought, the hot hitting Morse figures to fill in the majority of the playing time at first base for the Nationals, who have been batting Morse in the No. 4/5 hole behind Jayson Werth and Ian Desmond, and ahead of Danny Espinosa. That sort of lineup slotting, particularly with Werth's strong on-base skills, could lead to plenty of runs batted in and a respectable number of runs to go along with 20-25 home run power.
Recommendation: Because of his upside and lineup slotting, Morse is a must-own commodity in NL-Only and 50+ OF mixed leagues. Morse's positional flexibility also makes him quality corner infield-utility play as well.
Jerry Sands | Dodgers | OF | 3 percent Yahoo ownership
Oliver ROS: .245/.318/.462
Sands began his major league career hitting with a wiffle ball bat, hitting .189/.259/.302 through his first 15 games played, striking out in more than a quarter of his plate appearances without any home runs despite owning a .260 ISO in Double-A last season and blasting five home runs in only 45 Triple-A plate appearances this year. The Dodgers have been patient with Sands, however, and he has recently rewarded them, as well as patient fantasy owners, over the past two weeks with the kind of production I touted him having a month ago when I first recommended rostering Sands.
Since May 7, Sands has come to the plate 49 times, and in those 49 opportunities, Sands has gone yard twice with nine runs batted in to go along with 12 hits and 10 walks. Sands' batting average over this period is well above .300. He is currently slotted in the No. 5 spot of the Dodgers' lineup, behind Matt Kemp, and when Andre Ethier returns, it is possible that Sands will remain in the spot (with James Loney getting returned to the basement of the lineup, where he belongs) with even more RBI opportunities.
Sands is an impact player who is starting to heat up, and as the weather starts to get warmer, more of Sands' doubles should begin leave the yard. I still stand behind <"a href="http://www.hardballtimes.com/main/fantasy/article/nl-waiver-wire-week-3/">everything I wrote in Week 3, so consult that for further details on Jerry Sands and what I think he'll do this year (quick summary: "A .260 batting average with 20-25 home runs and double digit steals is entirely in the cards for the rest of the season if Sands is given regular playing time"). You are officially on notice and advised to make an immediate add, before other owners get wise.
Recommendation: Jerry Sands is a top 60 outfielder who is a must-own player in NL-only and moderate sized mixed leagues. Sands, more so than Ryan Ludwick, should be owned as a quality source of a power off at least the bench in shallower leagues as well.
Travis Wood | Reds | SP | 21 percent Yahoo ownership
YTD: 5.17 ERA, 1.40 WHIP, 7.44 K/9, 2.75 BB, 34.1% GB%
Oliver ROS: 4.04 ERA, 1.31 WHIP, 7.0 K/9, 3.3 BB/9, 2.15 K/BB
I planned to use this space to write about how Travis Wood was an underrated pitcher whose FIP (3.39) and xFIP (3.67), coupled with a solid 46:17 (2.71) K/BB ratio over 55.2 innings pitched, made Wood a premium buy-low target in light of his bloated 5.17 ERA and 1.40 WHIP. I plugged his seasonal numbers into my latest version of the xWHIP calculator, however, and, well, a picture is worth a thousand words, so I'll let the image stand on its own. (I do not have runs-created by event data for 2011, so the expected tERA cell is set to "0.00"):
Recommendation: Wood is a spot starter at best in mixed formats, while a borderline thrird starting pitcher in NL-only. Shallow leagues can ignore him, and owners might be best served trying to convince saber-savvy league mates that they are "buying low."
As always, leave the love hate/in the comments below; I'm pretty quick to respond.
Posted by Jeffrey Gross at 1:52am (8) Comments
Upon the encouragement of colleague and Waiver Wire partner Jeffrey Gross, we'll each be featuring one player we suggest buying, as well as one we suggest selling in addition to our standard coverage of under-owned fantasy commodities.
Juan Rivera| Toronto| 1B/OF| 5 percent Yahoo! ownership
Oliver ROS: .274/.328/.448
The season line for Juan Rivera is ugly, but he finds himself riding a hitting streak that has seen his slash increase from .203/.295/.266 on May 16 to its current mark. Not a flashy player, Rivera offers cheap power with the potential for an average falling in the .270s or .280s (career .278 hitter). While it's easy to blame his current poor line on a below league average BABIP, it's important to note his career BABIP is just .282 and he is popping balls up at an alarming rate. Even with his shortcomings in mind, Rivera is a viable option for owners in need of a hitter capable of slugging 20-to-25 home runs, and one worth rostering while he's squaring the ball up. Monitor his playing time situation when Adam Lind returns from the disabled list, but expect to see him get regular at-bats by playing first base, the corner outfield and designated hitter.
Recommendation: Should be owned most large mixed-leagues and all AL-only formats.
David DeJesus| Oakland| OF| 18 percent Yahoo! ownership
Oliver ROS: .287/.349/.436
A fantasy glue guy, David DeJesus is a jack-of-most trades (not much of a threat to steal bases), master of none. A career Royal, DeJesus' introduction to the Athletics this season has lacked fireworks, more closely resembled the waving of a sparkler. Much of his lackluster season can be blamed on good ol' fashioned bad luck on batted balls (.319 BABIP for his career, .263 BABIP in 2011). Since flipping the calendar to May, he has begun to heat up. Part of a lineup that lacks star hitters, DeJesus is likely to continue to be the beneficiary of hitting in the top third of the order.
Owners in need of modest across the board contributions should strongly consider rostering DeJesus. Those in leagues with daily lineup changes can further benefit from him by taking advantage of his huge platoon split. He is a career .296/.370/.452 hitter versus right-handed pitchers while hitting just .269/.333/.367 versus left-handed pitchers.
Recommendation: Should be owned some medium sized mixed-leagues, all large mixed-leagues. and all AL-only leagues.
Andrew Oliver| Detroit| SP| 0 percent Yahoo! ownership
YTD: 3.31 ERA, 1.26 WHIP, 8.54 K/9, 3.48 BB/9 (Triple-A)
Oliver ROS: 5.41 ERA, 1.51 WHIP, 6.5 K/9, 4.5 BB/9
Oliver gets the turn in the Tigers rotation Saturday to replace the injured Phil Coke against the Red Sox. A hard-throwing southpaw, Oliver will need to use his secondary offerings effectively if he's to be successful in his second stint in the majors. He has been fairly successful in the minors this year, but still could stand to improve his walk rate and induce a few more ground balls. Not a recommended start in any league size right out of the chute, he is an intriguing prospect worth monitoring.
Recommendation: Should be monitored in re-draft leagues, and potentially stashed in dynasty leagues in the event of a strong return to the majors.
Brandon Webb| Texas| SP| 13 percent Yahoo! ownership
Oliver ROS: 3.56 ERA, 1.24 WHIP, 7.0 K/9, 2.6 BB/9
Brandon Webb hasn't thrown a pitch in a professional baseball game since 2009. It is safe to say, with that in mind, there are many questions that need to be answered before determining whether he can be a viable starter at the major league level. He will begin answering those questions Monday, when he starts for Frisco in Double-A. Those in deep-mixed leagues and AL-only leagues with an opening on their disabled list wouldn't be crazy to stash him, as there is value in using every available roster spot. Otherwise, he should just be monitored on his rehab assignment for the time being.
Recommendation: Should be monitored.
Gavin Floyd| Chicago (American League)| SP| 62 percent Yahoo! ownership
YTD: 3.61 ERA, 1.08 WHIP, 7.49 K/9, 2.14 BB/9, 45.6 percent GB
Oliver ROS: 3.82 ERA, 1.28 WHIP, 7.0 K/9, 2.7 BB/9
A favorite of mine, Gavin Floyd is a player I'd strongly suggest acquiring. Owned in inexplicably too few Yahoo! leagues, it appears he still doesn't get the respect he deserves. Regardless of preferred method of analyzing a pitcher, Floyd has performed tremendously this season. With the increased exposure of advanced statistics, buy-lows have largely become a thing of the past. Perhaps the next in-vogue trade practice will be identifying undervalued players whose surface stats match their underlying numbers. Floyd would fit that bill as he's posting a 3.29 x, 3.44 FIP, and a 3.91 tERA, all of which would support his solid 3.61 ERA. The owner of a sparkling walk rate, a strong groundball slant in batted balls, and a solid strikeout rate, Floyd does everything that's relatively in his control well. Currently the No. 31-ranked starter in Yahoo! standard formats, Floyd is a No. 3 fantasy starter who doesn't seem to be valued like one.
Recommendation: Should be universally owned!
Zach Britton| Baltimore| SP| 71 percent Yahoo! ownership
YTD: 2.35 ERA, 1.12 WHIP, 4.85 K/9, 2.91 BB/9, 55.7 percent GB
Oliver ROS: 4.04 ERA, 1.39 WHIP, 5.4 K/9, 3.8 BB/9
While buy-lows may largely be a thing of the past, selling high is still somewhat prevalent should a player be the owner of a couple of notable characteristics. One of those is youth, the second is prospect status. Lo and behold, Zach Britton qualifies as being both. A glance at the surface stats would suggest Britton has arrived and is a fantasy asset. However, it is hard to envision a starting pitcher maintaining such sparkling ratios with such a low strikeout rate and just a modest walk rate in the non-deadball era even if he is inducing an eye-popping number of groundballs.
Owned in more leagues than Floyd, Britton serves as "Exhibit A" of the shiny new toy syndrome that has seemed to afflict a large percentage of the fantasy community. I won't suggest that those who own Britton should outright cut him, as he has performed well, but he should be shopped vigorously. The dynamics change a bit for those in dynasty and keeper leagues, but in terms of standard re-draft leagues, it's unlikely his value will be any higher.
Recommendation: Should be owned in some medium sized mixed-leagues, all larger mixed-leagues as well as all AL-only leagues.
Posted by Josh Shepardson at 4:36am (14) Comments
Monday, May 30, 2011
I can't believe it's been four years already, THTF readers. I can still vividly remember the rush of excitement when I received my first e-mail from THT, asking me to start a fantasy section for them. I had been writing at a small, independent blog at the time and couldn't believe that I had received such an e-mail after just two months. THT was my favorite site at the time, and I was ecstatic that I'd now have the opportunity to be such a big part of it.
Over the past four years, THT Fantasy has grown from a one-man operation to a full-blown site with a full staff of writers and the readership to match. And that, right there, is the reason I'm so grateful to THT for giving me that opportunity four years ago: the readers. I am so thankful to THT for giving me the opportunity to write for such an amazing, intelligent audience. I love that you guys ask questions and challenge us writers, and I'm glad that I could be there to help when you've e-mailed or IMed me with questions.
It saddens me to be leaving THT because it was the site that gave me my start, that first gave me the opportunity to write for a large audience. I have many fond memories at THT, and I will miss it dearly. I want to express my utmost thanks to Dave Studeman and David Gassko, the two men responsible for bringing me to THT in the first place. I also want to thank my incredible staff of writers who have helped make THT such a great place for fantasy analysis. And finally, again, I want to thank the readers, because without you, THT Fantasy doesn't exist — and neither does Derek Carty, the fantasy writer.
If you're looking for me, you can now find my work at Baseball Prospectus. I'll also continue to write at FanDuel and CardRunners. This past week, I began a series at CR looking at the value and reliability of closers, which I think should be very interesting. The first article in the series looks at how likely a closer is to keep his job the entire season. Additionally, you can keep track of everything I'm doing at DerekCarty.com or follow me on Facebook or Twitter.
Before I leave, I'd like to say thank you once more to the wonderful crew at The Hardball Times and to the amazing readers. I've absolutely loved my time here, and I will cherish these memories forever.
Posted by Derek Carty at 2:00am (4) Comments
Tuesday, May 31, 2011
All statistics current through May 27, 2011.
Sabermetricians have shown that once the ball is out of the hands of the pitcher, the pitcher has very little control over the outcome of the ball put into play.
DIPS theory tells us that a pitcher controls a few things about the outcome of an at-bat, each to a variable degree. The pitcher has the most control over the elements of the game that only involve himself, and omit others. A pitcher is in almost absolute control over the general location of his pitch. There are some marginal or unpredictable variants such as temperature, weather, wind speed and wind direction that factor into pitch location, but a pitcher who does not hit his spots can generally only blame himself. He either gripped the ball incorrectly, released it too late, did not properly adjust his throw for weather condition, "has the jitters," just can't pitch, etc. A pitcher likewise almost completely (though less completely than location) controls intentional walks, which essentially eliminate the batter from the equation of the outcome. Though players like Miguel Cabrera and Jeff Francouer come to mind as the rare player who interferes with the pitcher's attempt to intentionally walk them, it is generally true that if a pitcher wants to intentionally walk a batter, it will happen.
Once the batter comes into the equation, the pitcher loses his control over the outcome. Once the pitch is released from his hands, he has done all he can do. It is then in the batter's hand as to whether contact is made, where on the ball the contact is made, how hard the ball is hit, and whether or not it is pulled, amongst various other variables. In this regard, a pitcher has some, but not total, control over unintentional walks and strikeouts. The pitcher tries to fool the batter, but the batter may or may not buy the bait. The fielders are irrelevant before the ball is put into play, so the outcome is largely dominated by an exercise in game theory between the batter and pitcher.
A pitcher also controls the tendency of the ball to be on the ground or in the air. As noted above, once the ball is released from the pitcher's hand, what happens to it is ultimately a question of what the batter does. A pitcher can throw the ball with heavy sink to induce ground balls, or throw it high in the zone to induce a popup, but the hitter, not the pitcher, ultimately controls the angle of trajectory, the force of contact, and the direction of the ball off the bat. Once contact is made, the ball is either put in play, in which case the pitcher's fielders have the ultimate control over what happens next, or the ball is foul, in which case the batter-pitcher game repeats, or the ball is a home run, over which the pitcher has some, but not ultimate, control. (This is the theory behind xFIP and using a normalized home run rate in lieu of the pitcher's actual home run rate as traditionally used in FIP.)
BABIP research by ball in play type out indicates that league fielding per batted ball type tends to be relatively stable. It tends to fluctuate annually, but only slightly and negligibly. For example, the expected hits rate on ground balls in play between 2004 and 2008 was .239. From 2008 to 2010, it was .236. So far this year, it is .238. The same is true for infield fly balls, line drives and outfield fly balls (though the latter two tend to fluctuate more, which is probably the result of scorer bias*). It is also true that line drive rate seems to remain relatively stable and out of pitcher control as well in the long run. Only a handful of pitchers have cumulative line drive rates that are not between 18 and 20 percent over the past five years, and most of those pitchers tend to be extreme batted-ball players. Even in the outlier, however, no pitcher has a line drive rate below 16 percent or above 22 percent. Noting this, you can probably say that Mat Latos' 9.2 percent line drive rate and Travis Woods' 24.5 percent line drive rate on the season are either the result of bad luck or funky scoring and that we should expect such to persist in the future.
*Note: scorer bias might make one skeptical of batted ball-based evaluation/prediction tools, but it is important to note that I am not, nor are most, preaching a black-and-white bible of truth with sabermetrics and sabermetric tools, but rather commenting upon the tendency of outcome or a rough baseline from which to make better, more informed decisions. Tools like tRA and the xWHIP Calculator are hardly perfect, but they lead to more informed analysis and decision-making.
From this research, I stood on the shoulders of men much smarter than myself and created the Expected WHIP (xWHIP) Calculator. (You can download the beta version for xWHIP3 by clicking here.) In case you are not familiar with how the xWHIP Calculator works, let me give you the quick rundown of how to use it and what it does. Refer to the picture of the beta of version 3.0 below (note: the 2008-2010 environment is loaded in the hits/outs created field; I do not have the runs created data for 2008-2010 to provide at this time).
The first and only manual step is data entry. Begin by entering data into the gray cells by using the player's page on Fangraphs. The xWHIP Calculator is calibrated to Baseball Info Solutions (BIS) batted ball data, and, to avoid unnecessary scorer bias through consistency, you need to enter BIS data, which is what is available on Fangraphs. You can also change the pink cells of "specialized data points," but will likely require information that is not publicly available to properly modify such. Hence, you should probably leave them untouched (well, unless you want to use a player's career home run per outfield flyball rate in lieu of the league average mark*).
*If you modify the HR/OFFB% cell, do not change the park factor cell, or you risk double counting.
Once you've entered the data, the rest is all automatic, courtesy of my tireless hours of work in creating the xWHIP Calculator. My xWHIP formula first adds up all the batted ball data, and then normalizes it based on a regressed line drive rate. I use 19 percent, or about the league average. Then, with my new "normalized" batted ball distribution, I multiply each ball in play form by its expected hits rate. This gives you expected hits. The calculator also calculates expected home runs based on the normalized data for outfield flies and line drives.
Once a normalized batted ball distribution is created, the xWHIP Calculator also calculates an expected innings total (xIP). I calculate expected innings because actual innings pitched, like hits, is a function not only of player skill, but fielder interference/assistance and other statistical noise. A great or poor play is the difference between an extra batter faced and the end of the inning*. Expected innings is calculated by multiplying events by expected outs created by event. For example, a ground ball put in to play tends to result in 0.808 outs per occurrence. Caught stealing and pick off rates are something that varies by catcher and pitcher, but calculating such to be effectively utilized is something that I am not properly equipped to do. Hence, I use a league-average rate of .02 outs created per base runner to account for expected pickoffs and players who might get caught stealing. This formula gives me expected outs, which I then divide by three.
*This is why K% is more stable, indicative and, as a predictive/evaluational tool, valuable than K/9.
Using expected hits, expected home runs, and expected innings, as well as the other calculated data, we get a few valuable output points from the xWHIP Calculator. The primary purpose of the calculator and its calculations is to give a pitcher's expected WHIP. xWHIP may not be important from a purely sabermetrics standpoint, but fantasy baseball players find it quite useful. xWHIP is calculated in three ways. First, xWHIP1 calculates a pitcher's expected WHIP using actual innings pitched. Second, xWHIP2 calculates a pitcher's expected WHIP using expected innings (xIP). Finally, quick xWHIP, or qxWHIP, calculates a player's expected WHIP based purely on a player's actual innings pitched, strikeout total, and WHIP. qxWHIP was created by Alex Hambrick, and the theory behind it is explained here.
The xWHIP Calculator also has a quick-and-dirty defensive adjustment for pitchers that converts a team's defensive results into an expected "hits saved" compared to the hypothetical "league-average defense" per inning. This defensive adjustment has severe limitations (defense is hardly uniform infield-to-outfield, or player-to-player), and is optional, but it gives some sense of how a team's overall defense can be roughly expected to affect a player's "true talent" line.
In addition to xWHIP, however, the new versions of my xWHIP Calculator also tabulate two mainstream ERA estimators using normalized data. The first ERA estimator is eFIP, which is based on xFIP. xFIP is traditionally calculated by subtracting two times a pitcher's strikeout total by the sum of three times a pitcher's walk total plus 13 times .105 times that player's flyball total, all divided by innings pitched. The resulting figure is then added to some constant, usually 3.2, to scale xFIP to look like ERA. xFIP tends to be my ERA estimator of choice, but I have several problems with the popular version of the formula. First, it uses a pitcher's flyball total to calculate expected home runs. Flyball total is a composite of outfield fly balls and infield fly balls. As popups can never be home runs, it is silly to include them. In addition, home-run-per-outfield-fly-ball rates tend to be more stable over the long term than home-run-per-fly-ball rates.
Second, and perhaps this is offset by including popups in the traditional expected home run formula, xFIP does not account for line-drive home runs. Line-drive home runs are few and far between, but they do occur a few times per 100 hits that are scored as line drives.
Third, xFIP is tabulated irrespective of expected flyball or outfield flyball rate. Pitchers, as noted above, do not seem to have much control over line-drive rate. If a pitcher, particularly in smaller samples (which give you less valuable data outcomes), has an atypically low or high line-drive rate, then a pitcher's xFIP is skewed accordingly. The difference is, at most, a couple of home runs, but, like my infield flyball grudge with traditional xFIP, why use it if you don't have to?
Fourth, xFIP does not account for park factors. Each of the 30 major league parks has different park dimensions that uniquely affect home run totals. Petco and Busch Stadium affect pitcher's home runs allowed totals radically different than do the parks of Chicago. Players only play about 50 percent of their games at home, so you need to modify park factors accordingly, but the difference in expected ERA between Busch Stadium and Coors Field is substantial enough that it requires accounting, though that causes the xFIP formula to further sacrifice simplicity.
xFIP is a nice formula because it is simple and easy to calculate. Normally, accounting for my gripes would sacrifice much of xFIP's simplicity appeal. However, given all the calculations the xWHIP Calculator makes, calculating a modified expected FIP to correct for my gripes is simple. I term this modified xFIP formula "eFIP."
In addition to eFIP, the newest versions of the xWHIP Calculator will also calculated batted ball normalized versions of tRA or tERA, which I have termed "EXTRA." EXTRA is calculated the exact same way as tRA, but it uses the pitcher's normalized, not actual, batted ball data as the inputs.
Now that you know the parameters, let's look at some of the major league's leaders and losers in xWHIP, eFIP, and EXTRA using 2011's runs environment and statistics through May 27, 2011. You can download the data file by clicking here.
Before reviewing the data, take note of the following. First, the following calculations use major league outs/runs/hits numbers, not league-specific numbers, so American League pitchers will tend to fare worse than these numbers, while National League hitters will tend to perform better. Second, changes in a player's strikeout (xWHIP2) or walk rate (xWHIP1, xWHIP2) would have an appreciable effect on a pitcher's expected WHIP. Third, while only starting pitchers (pitchers with at least one game started) are included in my data file, with the exception of Zack Greinke, only starting pitchers with 30 or more expected innings are included in my leaderboard (136 starting pitchers qualify). Fourth, I am calculating WHIP with unintentional walks (BB-IBB+HBP, or uBB); uBB better evaluates a pitcher's control and expected baserunners. Finally, the league average xWHIP and eFIP are 1.33 and 4.00, respectively. The actual current major league average WHIP and FIP are 1.31 and 3.95, respectively.
First, the WHIP under-performers to date (calculated using "actual WHIP" (see above) minus the mean of a pitcher's xWHIP1 and xWHIP2):
Name xIP aWHIP xWHIP dWHIP Davies, Kyle 44.54 1.90 1.57 0.34 Lackey, John 42.57 1.88 1.63 0.25 Reyes, Jo-Jo 55.06 1.66 1.42 0.24 Arroyo, Bronson 67.25 1.52 1.30 0.21 Greinke, Zack 29.99 1.14 0.93 0.21 Capuano, Chris 57.87 1.48 1.28 0.20 Dempster, Ryan 66.79 1.56 1.36 0.19 Garza, Matt 59.54 1.35 1.16 0.19 Holland, Derek 61.03 1.58 1.39 0.18 Jackson, Edwin 70.82 1.50 1.33 0.17 Tillman, Chris 50.41 1.67 1.50 0.17 Scherzer, Max 67.28 1.48 1.32 0.17 Carpenter, Chris 73.60 1.43 1.28 0.15 Lee, Cliff 78.18 1.25 1.10 0.15 Myers, Brett 69.78 1.51 1.39 0.13 McDonald, James 54.30 1.52 1.40 0.12 Norris, Bud 68.42 1.30 1.18 0.11 Dickey, R.A. 61.18 1.60 1.49 0.11 Francis, Jeff 69.59 1.40 1.30 0.10 Wood, Travis 62.79 1.41 1.31 0.10 Hudson, Dan 72.45 1.33 1.23 0.10 Rodriguez, Wandy 67.84 1.32 1.22 0.10 Lilly, Ted 63.55 1.34 1.25 0.09 Duensing, Brian 54.92 1.44 1.36 0.09 Morrow, Brandon 40.47 1.38 1.30 0.08 Baker, Scott 61.52 1.30 1.22 0.07 Stauffer, Tim 65.87 1.32 1.25 0.07 Niese, Jon 62.10 1.44 1.38 0.06 Volstad, Chris 52.02 1.44 1.38 0.06 Danks, John 66.59 1.40 1.34 0.06 Harang, Aaron 61.74 1.32 1.26 0.06 Narveson, Chris 57.44 1.35 1.29 0.06
Much of this leaderboard is populated with under-inspiring pitchers who, while unlikely, have pitched pretty poorly this year and are hardly worth a spot on your bench. Case in point: the injured John Lackey and "immutable" Kyle Davies. A few names do stand out, however. I think the ship sailed on Ryan Dempster (whose numbers are infinitely better if you omit his 0.1 inning pitched disaster at Arizona) after his 11-strikeout performance on May 13, but maybe some owner has not been paying close enough attention this past month (e.g., people in college). We all know Cliff Lee and Matt Garza have had their share of bad luck this year, but what about Chris Carpenter and Zack Greinke? Greinke's performance to date puts him in company with the top three guys in the league, but his 5.79 ERA has been ugly. If any owner is having second thoughts about the Royals ex-Ace, or is willing to deal him at market value, I'd strongly considering biting. And what about Bud Norris? I wrote about him last week, but his ownership rate is still below 50 percent (it actually went down a notch). I think a lot of people are overlooking just how good Norris has been this year. Jeff Francis and Travis Wood are a pair of pitchers who could help you in other categories without hurting your future WHIP.
Next, the WHIP over-performers to date (calculated using "actual WHIP" (see above) minus the mean of a pitcher's xWHIP1 and xWHIP2):
Name xIP aWHIP xWHIP dWHIP Tomlin, Josh 60.26 0.93 1.24 -0.32 Lohse, Kyle 67.89 0.91 1.22 -0.30 Humber, Philip 56.67 0.98 1.28 -0.30 Britton, Zachary 59.14 1.12 1.38 -0.26 Ogando, Alexi 54.57 0.94 1.18 -0.25 Johnson, Josh 56.03 0.96 1.19 -0.23 Hudson, Tim 62.97 1.14 1.35 -0.22 Morton, Charlie 58.11 1.31 1.52 -0.21 Harrison, Matt 55.43 1.25 1.46 -0.20 Chacin, Jhoulys 64.78 1.10 1.30 -0.20 Maholm, Paul 66.89 1.16 1.36 -0.20 Beckett, Josh 58.97 0.98 1.18 -0.19 Penny, Brad 59.28 1.32 1.51 -0.19 Hochevar, Luke 70.45 1.23 1.41 -0.18 Liriano, Francisco 46.26 1.48 1.66 -0.18 Verlander, Justin 75.59 0.96 1.14 -0.17 Jurrjens, Jair 54.41 1.02 1.19 -0.17 McClellan, Kyle 61.16 1.21 1.38 -0.17 Haren, Dan 77.03 0.89 1.06 -0.16 Kennedy, Ian 71.84 1.10 1.24 -0.14 Coke, Phil 49.98 1.27 1.41 -0.14 Moseley, Dustin 57.56 1.23 1.37 -0.14 Burnett, A.J. 65.88 1.29 1.42 -0.14 Hanson, Tommy 62.63 1.09 1.22 -0.13 Carmona, Fausto 70.32 1.22 1.34 -0.13 Correia, Kevin 68.79 1.19 1.31 -0.12 Billingsley, Chad 67.93 1.26 1.37 -0.12 Cahill, Trevor 69.18 1.23 1.35 -0.11 Pineda, Michael 61.86 0.99 1.11 -0.11 Lincecum, Tim 74.38 1.05 1.16 -0.11 Hellickson, Jeremy 55.45 1.24 1.35 -0.11 Weaver, Jered 82.98 0.96 1.06 -0.10
Here we find a lot of players with BABIP-deflated ERAs who are on the Atkins diet when it comes to strikeouts: Kyle Lohse and Zach Britton's combined strikeouts per nine rate (9.81) is equal to that of Bud Norris. Most of these "trailers" tend to be groundball pitchers because groundballs, while having a lower expected runs outcome per event, have a higher hits-resulting rate. A year of xWHIP has taught me that ERA and WHIP tend to be inversely related to groundball and flyball rates. Alexei Ogando throws hard, but can you really trust a flyball pitcher (64.5 percent AO%) in Texas (inflates home runs by 10 percent)? Ogando's SwStr% (8.9 percent) indicates he is capable of slightly better than league-average strikeout totals. As you might notice not all players on this board are "bad" or have "bad" expected WHIPs (e.g., Josh Beckett). This is only a tool to help figuring out who has been under/over-performing, and an under-performer may very well be worth keeping.
Then we have the pitchers who are secretly better than their listed FIP.
Name xIP aFIP EXFIP dFIP Karstens, Jeff 45.60 4.92 3.57 1.35 Volquez, Edinson 51.36 5.77 4.50 1.27 Arroyo, Bronson 67.25 5.48 4.33 1.15 Gorzelanny, Tom 52.31 5.28 4.14 1.14 Hochevar, Luke 70.45 5.46 4.35 1.11 Dempster, Ryan 66.79 4.80 3.78 1.03 Myers, Brett 69.78 5.44 4.49 0.95 Greinke, Zack 29.99 3.06 2.18 0.88 McDonald, James 54.30 5.11 4.29 0.82 Lester, Jon 68.85 4.25 3.48 0.77 Capuano, Chris 57.87 4.61 3.86 0.75 Bedard, Erik 51.52 4.32 3.68 0.65 O'Sullivan, Sean 50.48 6.26 5.61 0.64 Lewis, Colby 64.90 5.26 4.62 0.64 Latos, Mat 53.83 4.35 3.80 0.55 Buchholz, Clay 58.87 4.77 4.25 0.52 Romero, Ricky 63.02 3.98 3.48 0.50 Baker, Scott 61.52 4.19 3.70 0.49 Pelfrey, Mike 64.67 5.07 4.59 0.48 Carmona, Fausto 70.32 4.29 3.82 0.47 Colon, Bartolo 57.80 3.79 3.32 0.47 Blackburn, Nick 62.39 4.65 4.19 0.47 Norris, Bud 68.42 3.75 3.30 0.45 Chen, Bruce 41.62 5.12 4.68 0.45 Arrieta, Jake 60.54 4.66 4.23 0.43 Chacin, Jhoulys 64.78 3.96 3.56 0.40 Scherzer, Max 67.28 4.36 3.98 0.39 Lilly, Ted 63.55 4.67 4.28 0.39 Dickey, R.A. 61.18 4.75 4.37 0.38 Gallardo, Yovani 68.64 4.27 3.91 0.36 Litsch, Jesse 46.74 4.69 4.35 0.34 Kuroda, Hiroki 70.70 4.15 3.81 0.34 Rodriguez, Wandy 67.84 4.05 3.71 0.33 Liriano, Francis 46.26 5.44 5.11 0.33 Volstad, Chris 52.02 4.24 3.91 0.33
If there is any pitcher to avoid on this list, it's Edinson Volquez. I took a lot of flack being a vocal Volquez hater this offseason, and while it's only been 51 innings, I really want to say "I told you so" about how bad his control was going to burn him this year. Volquez has a 4.16 xFIP, so a lot of people might be tempted to buy, but even if you tinker with his batted ball distribution a bit, his expected FIP is putrid. A 4.50 FIP would be "average" by standards two or three years ago, but in the new era of the pitcher, it's trade-or-cut material. Ryan Dempster's a name on this list I really like, but, as noted above, the ship has probably sailed on him by now. Same goes with Erik Bedard, who has been lights out over his past five or so turns. And what about Bartolo Colon? Is he the real deal after injecting cheeseburgers from his belly into his elbow? No matter which you choose, all the metrics seem to check out (3.77 ERA, 1.20 WHIP, 3.61 FIP, 2.90 xFIP, 3.86 eFIP, 1.20 WHIP, 1.28 xWHIP), but something does not smell right. A 5.9 percent SwStr% ties for his second-lowest mark since 2002 and is well below his post-2002 average of 7.6 percent, but his strikeout rate (23.6 percent) is a career second-best at age 38? I'd use the "it checks out" line to hedge your risk.
What's up with Jeff Karstens? He's been good on the surface (3.57 ERA, 1.28), but regular FIP says look out (4.70). Karsten's improved strikeout rate (18.9 percent this season, 12.2 percent career) makes sense if you look at batters' swing-and-miss rate against him (9.0 percent this year, 7.1 percent career, 8.4 percent major league average), but what is causing it? It's not his velocity (88.4 MPH fastball this year, 88.5 career) or pitch usage (none of his four usage rates varies by more than a few percent points this season). His change-up has been wicked awesome, but both his fastball and slider (thrown almost a combined three-fourths of the time) have fared poorly both this year and for his career. Tread at your own caution.
Chris Capuano, on the other hand, has been secretly good for the Mets, even if the results do not say so. His ERA (4.94) and WHIP (1.45) have been atrocious, but his peripherals (3.86 eFIP, 1.28 xWHIP, 7.74 K/9, 19.4 percent K%) say this waiver wire fodder (2 percent Yahoo ownership) might be worth a careful look.
And the guys whose FIPs are not telling the whole story. Keep in mind that in the second "year of the pitcher," ERAs are not what they used to seem.
Name xIP aFIP EXFIP dFIP Bergesen, Brad 51.38 3.90 5.15 -1.26 Morrow, Brandon 40.47 2.53 3.63 -1.09 Tillman, Chris 50.41 3.85 4.89 -1.04 McCarthy, Brando 62.85 2.67 3.60 -0.93 Jurrjens, Jair 54.41 2.97 3.85 -0.88 Coke, Phil 49.98 3.83 4.65 -0.81 Hudson, Dan 72.45 2.88 3.66 -0.78 Buehrle, Mark 72.50 3.82 4.59 -0.76 Zimmermann, Jord 60.00 2.98 3.73 -0.75 Sabathia, CC 77.83 2.99 3.70 -0.71 Fister, Doug 63.85 3.57 4.27 -0.70 Garza, Matt 59.54 2.01 2.71 -0.69 Lohse, Kyle 67.89 3.23 3.91 -0.68 Bumgarner, Madis 57.50 3.16 3.84 -0.67 Zambrano, Carlos 66.71 3.94 4.57 -0.62 Humber, Philip 56.67 3.77 4.35 -0.59 Hernandez, Livan 68.75 3.94 4.47 -0.53 Halladay, Roy 86.09 1.93 2.46 -0.53 Billingsley, Cha 67.93 3.29 3.82 -0.53 Johnson, Josh 56.03 2.72 3.24 -0.52 Masterson, Justi 64.33 3.23 3.72 -0.49 Marquis, Jason 63.53 3.80 4.27 -0.47 Weaver, Jered 82.98 2.74 3.21 -0.46 Oswalt, Roy 44.97 3.29 3.73 -0.44 Kennedy, Ian 71.84 3.41 3.84 -0.42 Beckett, Josh 58.97 3.03 3.45 -0.42 Pineda, Michael 61.86 2.84 3.25 -0.42 Morton, Charlie 58.11 3.91 4.29 -0.38 Reyes, Jo-Jo 55.06 4.25 4.61 -0.36 Maholm, Paul 66.89 3.60 3.96 -0.36 Chatwood, Tyler 53.24 5.09 5.45 -0.36 Nova, Ivan 54.62 4.61 4.96 -0.36
My mother always told me to never trust Brandon Morrow. As I noted last week, you're better off selling him at cost to another saber-friendly owner and investing the funds elsewhere. Jordan Zimmerman is much better than he's been or his presence here indicates, and I would sit tight with him. Is Justin Masterson finally putting it all together as a post-hype sleeper? 3.61 xFIP versus lefties (165 batters) and 3.26 xFIP versus righties (110 batters). Sorry Orioles fans clinging to old Bedard jerseys; Chris Tillman is not the stud or the sleeper we thought he was. Ditto on Brad Bergesen, who I once had a fantasy man crush on several years back. After 10 years, you should not be fooled by Jason Marquis. He tends to start things off well with new teams, but it always ends badly. Has Doug Fister been ol' reliable for you thus far? Don't expect it to persist, as he's more likely to take his hand and slap your fantasy team with it in the future. I've shaken off my preseason (Phil) Coke addiction, and what of former top Twins draftee Phil Humber? 2.85 ERA, 3.77 FIP looks nice for something you plucked off the waiver wire for a stream that never seemed to end in a drop, but lackluster strikeouts plus league-average WHIP plus poor ERA prospects equal trade toss in to get a better deal done. Finally, Livan Hernandez is not even worth mentioning.
Next time out (this upcoming Monday), we'll look at EXTRA, actual ERA and actual tRA to date. Until then, as always, leave your love/hate in the comments below.